The Curious Case of Katurian K. Katurian

A playwright pens the words of a character and provides a context for those words. I say those words on stage. That’s acting, right?

As an actor, I already have the words. Then I try to rationalize why I am saying them, how I say them and what I really mean by saying them.  I play with dynamics, tonality and tempo. I give a plethora of line readings to find the ones that feel good.

But ultimately, language fails.

Language is the last thing.

This rehearsal process has been unlike any other. I usually come with my lines memorized. This allows me to spend as little time as possible with a script in my hand. For this play, I was directed NOT to memorize.  That was a frightening idea. I thought I’d be hamstrung by holding a script. But that hasn’t been the case.

We start by reading the scene. We then drop the script and play out the scene in an elaborate improvisation where we go after our character’s objective with all of our energy. The words that come out of our mouths are far from the lines in the script.  It looks nothing like The Pillowman.  We then read the scene a second time and pick out the “pillars” of the scene– the important plot points, the events that hold it up– and then play out the scene using our own words to achieve the pillars.

We do this again and again and again, until the only thing we can do is say the words written in the script.

If you put yourself in the character’s circumstances and play in that sandbox for long enough, the character’s words will emerge. It’s a strange experience. I feel like I’m improvising (as my character would be) but when I reference the text, I realize that I’m sticking to the script. I don’t feel saddled– my physical actions and effort to obtain the character’s goals give me no other option than to say the words (or something very, very close) in the script.

Language doesn’t induce action. Action induces language.

I’ve learned a great deal by going about this play in this unorthodox fashion. I usually live in the world of the play, but am always thinking of the next line. This time, I live in the world of the play and the lines just emerge at the right time and in the right order. It’s almost a trance-like situation. “Did I just say that? Did I just do that?” It’s like when you drive on the highway, get home and turn off the car and can’t remember the drive. You know you did it, because you reached your destination, but because you’ve done it so many times, it just seems effortless.

-Tyler Hodges
Company Member

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